Beating the Jack Morris Drum…But No One is Listening

JackMorrisSmall.jpgOn Wednesday we’re likely to find out again that Jack Morris and Alan Trammell will not be enshrined in Cooperstown this summer. We’re used to it, right?

I still hold out hope that these two Tigers legends make it into the Hall of Fame — especially Morris, who was my favorite player. Meanwhile, former Blue Jays, Mariners and Phillies GM Pat Gillick is making a case for The Cat but our friend Rob Neyer ain’t buying it:

Pat Gillick has been a brilliant baseball man for a long time. If I haven’t already, someday I will throw my weight squarely behind his Hall of Fame candidacy. But he’s just wrong about Jack Morris. Or at the least, he pretty obviously isn’t objective about Jack Morris. That’s fine. Being objective about old ballplayers isn’t Pat Gillick’s job.

(Be sure to read the whole post.)

Rob and I have a running thing about his Morris-as-Hall-of-Famer stance; he knows I think Morris belongs (admittedly based on my youthful bias towards that early 1980s core and the fact I attended Morris’s first major-league victory), and I know Rob thinks the numbers don’t add up.

Nevertheless, it’s fun to talk about. At least I think it is.

By the by, last year we ran a Fungo Pulse Check poll on this topic and here’s how it played out:

Does Jack Morris deserve to be in the Hall of Fame?

Total Voters: 58 — Yes! (62%, 36 Votes) — No! (38%, 22 Votes)

What do you think? Is Morris a Hall of Famer? And what about Tram?

Discuss.

Wednesday Walewanders

company man.JPGI’m down to my last box of Girl Scout Cookies — Thin Mints, don’t you know — but despite this unfortunate circumstance, I present the Wednesday Walewanders.

  • Rob Neyer yesterday linked to this list of The Worst Contracts in Baseball and, no, the entire Tigers roster does not appear. But there is some significant Detroit representation: five lousy contracts. Take a peek for yourself. What do you think? How bad is it?

  • With the positive reaction to Edwin Jackson‘s Tigers debut last week I thought I’d check in on Matt Joyce‘s Spring Training so far. And based on this, it has not been a good one — at least not yet.

  • Happy Birthday to former Tigers outfielder Hiram Bochachica, perhaps the best name ever. He’s 33 today. On July 25, 2002, the Dodgers traded Bocachica to the Tigers for a player to be named later and minor leaguer Tom Farmer. The Tigers sent Jason Frasor to the Los Angeles Dodgers to complete the trade on Sept. 18 of that year. Frasor’s still hanging around as reliever for the Blue Jays.

  • The no-brainer continues.

  • I’ll admit that I was watching the Manny Ramirez saga more closely than I typically would. Why? Because I was bracing myself for Ken Williams‘ and the White Sox’s stealth swoop-in-and-sign. You know they were thinking about it.

  • Of course I like Marcus Thames. Who doesn’t? I’d just rather see Brent Clevlen make the team this year.

Finally, a public-service message wrapped in a question. Since launching The Daily Fungo in 2006, I’ve been trying to avoid running the ubiquitous Google ads for two reasons:

  1. No one likes them.
  2. No one clicks them.

Now the question: If I were to drop some ads into the site — very few and very unobtrusive — would it bother you as a reader? I’m not sure that I am going go to bring in ads, but I wanted your thoughts. (If I did decide to run ads, don’t be afraid to click them.)

We’re Giving Away Gifts!

In the spirit of the holidays, we’re giving away a couple of nifty baseball books to two lucky Fungo readers.

Send an email with your name and contact information and we’ll throw your name in a Tigers hat and select the winner of one of these two:

Interested? Enter the drawing.

Wednesday Walewanders

For the first time in three months (no joke), it’s raining here. We’ll stay warm and dry as we rollout another set of Walewanders:

    checklist.jpg

  • Remember when the Tigers announced that one of the coaches hadn’t decided to return for 2009? Whatever happened with that?

  • Almost a year ago, the Tigers acquired Dontrelle Willis and Miguel Cabrera and the playoff tickets were being designed in a desktop publishing program somewhere. Today? This team is viewed as a club with a flawed roster, a manager whose job is on the line, and a suddenly tighter budget. Is this 180-degree turnaround as astounding to you as it is to me?

  • Speaking of Dontrelle, listening to XM’s MLB Home Plate channel yesterday, I heard his agent, Matt Sosnick, say that Willis is physically sound and that any challenges next season will be purely mental. Ahem. Oh, and as for the D-Train’s offseason plans? This is a quote: “He needs to refresh himself mentally.” Don’t we all.

  • Over at TigsTown.com [$] guest columnist Ian Casselberry suggests that the Tigers should trade Placido Polanco this offseason. As much as this idea pains me, Ian’s reasoning is spot-on…as usual.

  • As usual, Friend of the Fungo Rob Neyer beats the No-Jack-Morris-in-the-Hall-of-Fame drum. Sigh. (Oh, and Rob’s column is no longer behind the ESPN.com Insider deal and is free to all.)

  • For the past month I’ve been meaning to write a post about the Arizona Fall League experience. I started it. I just…can’t…finish it. Yet. In the meantime, here’s a set of photos from a game in late October featuring many Tigers prospects, including Jeff Larish.

Finally, Happy 61st Birthday to Richie Hebner. The old gravedigger turns 61 today. (Did you know that Hebner was the last Tiger to wear number 2 before the team retired the number in honor of Charlie Gehringer?)

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family. Be safe.

The Detroit Tigers Podcast #49: Talking Baseball with Rob Neyer

neyer_rob_m.jpgWelcome to The Detroit Tigers Podcast, the podcast for Tigers fans, by Tigers fans. This is Episode #49, a 23-minute podcast about the Detroit Tigers recorded live from Scottsdale, Ariz., and Portland, Ore.

In this episode we’re joined by Rob Neyer of ESPN.com, and the author of six books, including his latest “Rob Neyer’s Big Book of Baseball Legends.”

We discuss Rob’s latest book and touch on the Tigers’ outlook for the rest of 2008.

Listen to the podcast in our nifty sidebar player –>

Download the audio file or grab the RSS feed here.

••• 

Comments? Leave a message on the new listener line: (602) 903-5174.

Theme music for the podcast produced by Paul Minshall.


The Detroit Tigers Podcast is not affiliated in any way with the Detroit Tigers Baseball Club or Major League Baseball.

The 20-year career: it's the new 10!

You want some spirited debate (of the non-Iowa Caucus variety, that is)? Try the Internet. More specifically, browse the comments of any Rob Neyer piece on ESPN.com — especially when he’s writing about the Hall of Fame.

Today Rob raised a terrific Tigers-related question in his column titled: Trammell being unfairly judged? (Insider only).

Actually, he first points to an article on BaseballProspectus.com in which Joe Sheehan shares his mock ballot. Guess who ain’t on it? Tram.

Once again, Trammell’s candidacy is the most difficult one to evaluate. He was one of the best players in baseball at his peak, and was part of the bridge from shortstops as singles hitters to the better players we see out there today. On the other hand, he had a fairly short peak and a short career. I’m wary of the defensive numbers on him, as his home park was notorious for its high infield grass. With so much of Trammell’s statistical case built on very good defensive stats at his peak, the twinge of doubt I feel about their validity makes me nervous. My bigger objection, though, is to the way his career ended. Trammell was done as a full-time player at 32, which is awfully early for a 20th-century position player being pushed for Cooperstown. Like Rice, Trammell would have been a Hall of Famer with a more typical decline phase. Instead, he had 10.2 WARP, total, after 32. I’m leaving him off, again.

Whoa. The grass at Tiger Stadium is being held against Trammell? Who the —? What the —?

It appears Mr. Neyer isn’t sure what to make of it either.

[W]hile it’s true that a typical decline phase would make Trammell’s career stats look a lot better, I don’t think Trammell’s (apparently) atypical decline is a reason to leave him out of the Hall of Fame

(snip)

I am not saying that Trammell’s 2,365 career hits constitute, by themselves, a great case for the Hall of Fame. I’m saying we shouldn’t hold Trammell’s decline phase against him, because his career accomplishments are right in line with plenty of Hall of Fame shortstops.

Two, while I’m intrigued by the notion that Trammell’s solid defensive credentials — he won four Gold Gloves, and Bill James has him as a Grade B-minus shortstop over his entire career — are partly the result of the high grass in the Tiger Stadium infield, I’d sure like to see somebody do some actual work on this one. Yes, sinkerballer Walt Terrell’s home/road splits were massive when he pitched for the Tigers, particularly from 1985 through ’87.

Ah, Walt Terrell. Oh, and Sheehan isn’t voting for Jack Morris either.

As I said at the outset. If you’re an ESPN Insider, check out the comments on Rob’s post. Some people need to lighten up.

P.S. Happy 59th Birthday to short-time Tiger pitcher Ike Brookens, cousin of long-timer Tom.

The PED-Free Non-Sequiturs

  • About three hours before the Mitchell Report was released today, I updated Twitter with this tongue-in-cheek ditty: Is today the day we find out Nook Logan was on steroids? Little did I know that his name would appear in the report (on page 277).

    Two bits of interest for me related to Logan: First, didn’t know his first name was Exavier. Second, he preferred to pay by money order. So old school.

    Now that Detroit Tigers fans have had two full seasons of Curtis Granderson in centerfield, can you even remember when Logan was thought to be a budding fixture in the Detroit outfield?

  • Big Al would disagree, but I’m hoping that Timo Perez comes north with the Tigers next spring. The guy has paid his dues and did everything he was asked as a surprising September call-up. (If you’re a Bob Seger fan, you must check out Al’s blend of Seger and the Detroit Lions.)
  • In the past, I used to write press releases that I liked to describe as “content-free.” In response to the Mitchell Report the Tigers today issued perhaps the shortest release (of any variety) I’ve ever seen. It’s really not worth your time to read it but here’s the second (and last) paragraph:

    The eradication of performance-enhancing substances in baseball and protecting the integrity of the game are the ultimate goals of the industry.

    Call me a cynic, but I thought winning baseball games and driving revenue growth, not in that order, were the ultimate goals of the industry.

  • Christmas came early at The Daily Fungo headquarters. In less than a week we had two mentions in Rob Neyer‘s blog on ESPN.com (you can find them here and here). Be sure to check out my interview with Rob on the podcast.
  • I don’t often read Drew Sharp‘s columns mainly because, well, more often than not I wonder what the hell he’s talking about. Take today’s column for example:

    It’s now officially the Steroids Era.

    It is?

    This statement — and the column’s headline, “Mitchell Report officially welcomes in Steroid Era”, which, in fairness, Sharp didn’t write — misses the point.

    I believe this report ushers out the Steroid Era. The Steroid Era started in the early 1990s — if not earlier — and ended quite recently.

    Perhaps today.

The Detroit Tigers Podcast #38: Talking Tigers with Rob Neyer

download The Detroit Tigers Podcast Welcome to The Detroit Tigers Podcast, the podcast for Tigers fans, by Tigers fans. This is Episode #38, a 54-minute podcast about the Detroit Tigers recorded live from Portland, Ore.neyer_rob_m.jpgIn this episode we’re joined by Rob Neyer of ESPN.com, and the author of five books, including “The Neyer/James Guide to Pitchers” (with Bill James) and “Rob Neyer’s Big Book of Baseball Blunders.”We discuss the blockbuster trade between the Tigers and the Marlins, the Tigers other off-season moves and the Hall of Fame prospects of former Tigers greats.—> Download the audio file or grab the RSS feed here.Comments? Leave a message on the listener line, (480) 383-6350, or leave a comment here!Talk to you next time…on The Detroit Tigers Podcast. Also, be sure to check out The Daily Fungo, my Tigers blog, for more conversations about the team. To stay current with the blog, use this RSS feed.The Detroit Tigers Podcast is not affiliated in any way with the Detroit Tigers Baseball Club or Major League Baseball.

The Non-Sequiturs: Holiday Edition

Let’s get right to the question of the day: You did send along birthday wishes today to Nook Logan, right? Tsk, tsk.

     

  • The Twins are quite a busy bunch this week with the Johan Santana discussions and the three-for-three trade with the Devil Rays. I read in the New York Daily News on Tuesday that the Detroit Tigers are a part of the Santana talks but, at best, on the extreme periphery.

    The Red Sox, Dodgers, Angels, Mets and Tigers are believed to be interested, though the Twins appear unwilling to deal Santana within the AL Central, likely taking the Tigers out of the equation.

    I can’t even begin to imagine him at the top of the Tigers rotation. You?

  • Unlike yours truly, ESPN.com’s Rob Neyer doesn’t believe Jack Morris is worthy of a spot in Cooperstown.

    I’ve made my feelings pretty clear over the years: if I were enfranchised [as a Hall of Fame voter], I would vote for Tim Raines, Bert Blyleven, Goose Gossage and Alan Trammell. Jim Rice is borderline; Jack Morris is not.

    To my chagrin, Neyer points to an article that offers a solid argument for why The Cat is not Hall of Fame material. Sigh. I’ve got more to say on this topic — and will soon.

  • On this date in 1967 (when Doug Hill was not yet six months old), the Tigers acquired RHP Dennis Ribant from the Pirates for RHP Dave Wickersham.Ribant, a Detroit native, appeared in 14 games (all in relief) during the 1968 season posting a 2-2 record, 1 save and 2.22 ERA. In 13 months, he was involved in four transactions — all involving the Tigers. Here are the other three:

    July 26, 1968: Traded by the Detroit Tigers to the Chicago White Sox for Don McMahon.October, 1968: Purchased by the Detroit Tigers from the Chicago White Sox.December 15, 1968: Purchased by the Kansas City Royals from the Detroit Tigers.

    As for Wickersham, his best year in the majors was with Detroit in 1964 winning 19 and losing 12 with a 3.44 ERA. He appeared in 40 games, started 36, pitched 254 innings, and tossed 11 complete games…and had one save.The next year he came back to earth with a 9-14 record but with a respectable 3.78 ERA.Who knew?

Finally, speaking of birthdays, Tony Giarrantano turns 25 on Thursday. Pudge Rodriguez has a birthday on Friday. How old? If you add the number of base on balls Pudge earned in 2006 and 2007 then add one, you’ll have your answer.